Margaret Bonds
1913–1972

Margaret Bonds

Composer and pianist Margaret Bonds grew up in a musically rich environment in Chicago—her mother was a gifted organist, and in high school Bonds studied piano and composition with Florence Price. Like Price, Bonds was a pathbreaker. In 1934, she became the first Black soloist to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, when she performed Price’s Piano Concerto in D Minor. Yet, like so many Black musicians, she faced significant obstacles. For example, she earned her B.M. and M.M. from Northwestern University but was not allowed to live on campus. Bonds was a gifted song composer and she turned often to the poetry of Langston Hughes, who became a lifelong friend. One of the video recordings on this site is of “When the Dove Enters In,” a never-before-recorded Hughes setting.

Additional Resources

Bonds’s works are better known than ever before—new scores and recordings are appearing with greater and greater frequency. But more scholarship is needed. Here are a few useful resources:

Did you know?

Bonds wrote over 200 compositions, but only 75 scores survive and only 47 were published in her lifetime.

Video Recordings

Bass-baritone Justin Hopkins and pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers perform Bonds’s “When the Dove Enters In.” This is the first ever recording of the song.
Bass-baritone Justin Hopkins and pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers perform Bonds’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

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